Friday, April 27, 2012

Dunedin's Peace Pole not so peaceful

 Recently I visited Dunedin.  Its a great place, and I had not been for about 14 years.  Thankfully, not much has changed, and it is still as beautiful as ever, and the people are nice and down to earth.

I was told to visit the Peace pole, which is in front of the Dunedin Museum.  It was erected in 2002, with flags of every country in the world.

This is a picture I was sent.

It had been suggested that somehow a certain country had been omitted.  I personally didn't believe it to be the case, but I needed to check for myself.

On the one hand, I was glad to see that the rumour was not true - Israel was definitely included.  Unfortunately, it's never nice to see this:

Israel's flag is almost totally scratched out, as is USA and Great Britain.  New Zealand's flag also had a single scratch.

Now I probably don't need to explain the symbology that destroying the flag of a nation represents the destruction of that nation.  Hardly peaceful.  Alternatively, Israel is not worthy of making peace.  

Assuming that this act of vandalism was performed by so-called "Peace" protesters, it is a fairly not peaceful act to get their message across.  But I think it's well known that "Peace" protesters don't really want peace.

I'm not sure which administration looks after the Peace pole - the museum or the City Council.  It would be nice to see it repaired, although the risk is that it may be continually vandalised.  Perhaps they could look a way to protect the flags in a better way.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

JPost reiterates my point

Just a few days after I make my points on whether Israel's critics actual practise religion, Daniel Gordis in the Jerusalem Post makes the same point

The article talks about Peter Beinart's book "The Crisis of Zionism".  It makes very emotional arguments about Palestinian suffering, yet talks about Israeli suffering in a very cold way.  Compare the arrest of a criminal against the kidnapping

BEINART’S PROBLEM isn’t really with Israel. It’s with Judaism. Bottom line, what troubles Beinart isn’t what’s happened to Zionism. What troubles him is the dimension of Jewish life that he can’t abide, but of which Zionism insists on reminding him. And that element is the undeniable fact that Judaism is tribal.
And this reminds me of my last post:

I don’t know which kiddush Beinart recited on the first night of Passover, but surely he knows that most Jews begin the main portion of the kiddush by praising God “who has chosen us from among all the nations, raising us above other languages

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Lessons on "anti-zionism" from Passover

I read the phrase on the internet all the time: "I'm not anti-semitic, I'm anti-zionist".
It's interesting - it suggest that being anti Israel somehow supports Jewish people and their culture, and there is no connection to Israel.  Its even stranger when we hear people quoting the anti-zionist Jews as some support to their hypothesis.

There is nothing so obvious a connection to Judaism than the Passover Seder.  There is nothing so bound with Jewish Symbology - Matzah, the Seder plate and bitter herbs.  So it stands to reason that all those anti-zionists that are not anti-semitic will be supportive of the practices and teachings that Jews recite at the Passover Seder.

This post takes some real quotes from the Passover Haggadah - The order of the Passover meal.  This is the same meal that Jesus practiced when he was arrested by the Romans of the crime of practicing Judaism.

"Whoever is hungry, let him come an eat.  Whoever is needy, let him come and celebrate Passover!"

For non-religious Jews, if they practice no other aspect of their culture, they will often still celebrate the Passover Seder.  It is almost universal.  One wonders then, how it is celebrated by the like of Noam Chomsky, Norman Finkelstein, etc.  I expect that it is not.  I know that Anthony Loewenstein certainly doesn't.  Every year, he is the only Jew in Australia available for an interview to the ABC on some aspect or another of Israel's "crimes".  Last year he attended the Marrickville BDS meeting ("randomly" selected for Seder night).

"Now we are here; next year may we be in the Land of Israel!  Now we are slaves; next year may we be free men!"
The telling of the exodus is core to the Passover Seder.  One really wonders how the anti-zionist brigade would react if they knew that this was part of the Judaism they supported.  The current excuses are that Jews are a myth - although how that is not "anti-semitic", that is beyond logic.

Much of the seder was devised around 2000 years ago, at the time when the Talmud was written down.  Before that, it had been a biblical commandment, with practices passed down orally from generation to generation.  The seder itself references its authors Rabbi Yehoshua, Rabbi Elazar ben Azaryah, Rabbi Akiva and Rabbi Tarfon.

"For not only one has risen against us to annihilate us, but in every generation they rise against us to annihilate us."
The correct interpretation (unlike that espoused by Loewenstein 'quoting' from Uri Avnery) is not that "they" will rise but "one" will rise.  This is a scary prediction.  Scary, because it was made 2000 years ago, and has sadly proven to be true.  It is followed by a statement that the Jewish people will be rescued every time.  Many see the rise of Iran and Islam as a fulfillment of some kind of final prophecy.  More widely interpreted though is that Ahmadinejad is just the latest to rise in this series of terrors.

"Whoever has not explained the following three things on Passover has not fulfilled his duty:  Pesach, Matzah and Maror"
 This is a key section where we explain the symbology of Passover - the passing over of the Israelites houses by the tenth plague; Matzah - the unleavened bread, that did not have time to rise as the Israelites fled Egypt; and Maror - the bitter herbs which represent the bitterness imposed on us by the Egyptians.  It is sad that often the cited anti-zionist spokespeople (Loewenstein, Finkelstein etc) cannot explain the relevance of practicing Judaism.  Why then are they somehow shown as "Jewish" spokespeople - they are doing everything they can to get away from it.

Probably the most telling statement is the final statement made at the seder:
"Next Year in Jerusalem!"
If this is a key to practicing Judaism, then Israel is also central to the practice of Judaism.  I would then conclude that anyone who states they are anti-zionist but not anti-semitic (or anti-jewish) is either ignorant of the facts or deliberately distorting them.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

NZ Super Rugby compared to Australia

I've attended two Melbourne Rebels games now.  Both at AAMI park.

The stadium itself is immaculate.  It has lots of exits, so it's easy to find your way to your seat, and easy to make quick pitstops and food stops without missing too much action.  Lots of giveways on game day, and players signing in tents outside.  Public transport is right on hand - the stadium is at Richmond station. 

I'm trying to compare them to New Zealand.  When I see games on TV from NZ, it looks like the fizzle is gone.  What's different in Melbourne?

Well, for a start there's a cheer squad - the "Rebel Army" that sit behind the goal posts, bang drums and wave flags.  They are a bit more than that, as they organise a lot of fan events, including at the official Rebels pub and fan page.  The players seem to really appreciate it, and I must say they are a lot of fun to sit with.  I haven't seen anything similar in NZ stadiums.

For the Rebels, you can purchase season passes, which range from corporate type membership, to weekly or even 3-game passes.  There is even a membership for out-of-towners, which still gives you access to lots of merchandise and team e-mails.  I really think that this is missing for the Hurricanes and even the All Blacks.  How many All Blacks supporters live internationally?  Lots!  Why not have a club which costs $50 annually, and gets you access to merchandise and priority bookings.  I think this is a lost opportunity.  It especially saddens me when you hear about the financial difficulties of NZ Unions.  I'd really like to support the Manawatu Turbos, but there really isn't a way to do it.

The only major downside for Melbourne has been the scheduling, with all home games last season on Friday nights.  This year 5 games out of 8 are on Friday nights.  There was one sunday afternoon game, which was great for families.  I must say that the Hurricanes aren't much better.  They are struggling for attendance in Wellington, and yet have decided to only host one game out of the capital this season, in New Plymouth.  Palmerston North and Napier don't get a visit, which is poor. 

New Zealanders seem to be saturated with Rugby, and it is showing in the population's indifference.  Melbourne has a Rugby watching population maybe one hundredth of NZ, but yet they are embracing their team wholeheartedly.  New Zealand could learn a lot about both event management and fan relations.